If a good old hard-hitting football game is what fans want to see, they should tune into this week’s Big Ten matchup between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Michigan State Spartans. The Spartans are going on the road to Iowa City, and they know that Iowa running back Mark Weisman is waiting for them.
As the Hawkeyes are 1-0 in Big Ten play and are ready to for their first Big Ten home game of the season, Kinnick stadium will surely be loud on Saturday. Many of those cheers will be for the junior running back that has been averaging nearly five yards a carry for the majority of the season.
This week, Weisman’s tough running style will be up against possibly the best defense in the Big Ten. Year in and year out, the Spartans play outstanding defense and this year is no exception. The standard in Lansing is tough defense, and they have already established that this season.
Who can we expect to win the battle between the Hawks’ rushing attack and the Spartans defense? Call this one a draw? No, Iowa will win this matchup. They may do so with a little over 100 yards rushing, but that may be enough to win this game. Jake Rudock has proven that he is a viable option at quarterback for the Hawkeyes, and the threat of Weisman in the backfield will open up opportunities for Rudock downfield.
So what will be the deciding factor in this game? The factor is that Iowa’s defense may be just as prominent as Michigan State’s this season. The Hawkeyes have a fantastic defensive line this season, and they have proven that they can take over a contest quickly. They need to harass quarterback Connor Cook early and often.
Possibly more important than getting the quarterback in the backfield is containing the Michigan State offense. The Hawkeyes’ defense is good enough that they can play with a “bend but don’t break” attitude against a Michigan State offense who has struggled to establish their identity.
They need to make the Spartans move the ball three yards at a time, and force them into a lot of third downs. If they can do that, the Hawkeyes will put themselves in a place to win this game.
We may be looking at a very low-scoring game; neither team offers the threat of big, quick-scoring plays (although credit must be given to the Iowa return game). The difference in this game will be Weisman and the Hawkeyes’ offense ability to continuously move the chains. The Hawkeyes should be looking at a shining 2-0 start to their Big Ten season.